Justin Maskulinski, Senior Staff Writer

The Miami University golf team returns to the course after a two-week break from competition, as it competes in the Firestone Invitational in Akron.

The Firestone Country Club is best known for hosting the Bridgestone Invitational, a World Golf Championship event that Tiger Woods has won a record eight times.

The ‘Hawks play 36 holes Monday and the final 18 holes Tuesday.

The RedHawks’ lineup features seniors Austin Kelly and Mark MacDonald, juniors Scott Cahill and Luke Shaughnessy and sophomore Jack Sparling.

“We’re all excited to get back on the course and Firestone is a great course,” MacDonald said. “[Kelly] is back, and he’s excited to be back.”

The Firestone Invitational is Kelly’s first tournament of the fall, as he has been battling injuries. Kelly played 24 rounds last year for the RedHawks and averaged 75.21 shots per round, the lowest average of anyone on this year’s team.

Head coach Zac Zedrick said the players were able to analyze their play over the break.

“The break from competition was a good time for the guys to find weaknesses in their game and work on them,” Zedrick said.

Cahill said he worked on his swing during the break.

“I put a lot of time in,” Cahill said. “[Junior Brantley Kushner] and I spent a lot of time in the indoor facility.”

MacDonald, who is averaging a round of 74 in his last two tournaments after a shaky start, said he approached the break with a cautious mentality.

“Breaks can go either way,” MacDonald said. “Sometimes you can benefit or they can hurt you. It’s good to get your mental and physical rest.”

The RedHawks finished 13th, 8th, and 6th in their first three tournaments respectively, improving their final standing each time, and MacDonald said he expects the same in Akron.

“If we can keep improving off of our previous weeks we will be where we want to be,” MacDonald said. “We’ve been improving every so I don’t expect [the Firestone Invitational] to be any different.”

Cahill, who is averaging 75.44 strokes per round this year, said he hopes his work over the break can improve his second and third shots.

“I’m going to focus on hitting a lot of the greens,” Cahill said. “I hope to keep calm if things don’t go the way I want them too. I want to lead by example for the other guys.”

Although the team used its break time to improve, Cahill said the team is ready to compete against other teams again.

“We’ve been playing against each other and competing at home over the break,” Cahill said. “We are excited to get back on the road, there’s nothing like it.”

Zedrick changed the lineup for the third time in as many tournaments. Cahill and MacDonald are the only two golfers who have participated in all three of Miami’s tournaments this fall. Zedrick said he has faith in the five golfers he chooses, no matter who they are.

“We can go out and give ourselves a chance to win every tournament if we do what we are capable of doing,” Zedrick said. “No matter the five guys that travel, I have 100% confidence in them.”

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